The Japanese word for cherry is sakura. The entire country is planted with them. When the trees are in flower, the display is spectacular. Like Christmas in the West, it is a time of year when people get together. Individuals and businesses hold parties. People are obliged to socialise when their inclination might be otherwise, which can be both a good and a bad thing. 

Cherry blossom viewing is difficult to avoid if you live in Japan. If you like flowers, it's a great time to visit the countryside. If you are a student of human behaviour, there is a lot to see. Offices arrange parties and staff feel bound to turn up. You can see them in the parks, sitting beneath the trees. Some will be viewing the blooms with eyes attuned to the beauty of nature. Others will be swigging beer and stuffing themselves with potato crisps. It takes all sorts to make a world and no one can escape the sakura parties. Sakura time starts in early spring in the south of the country and several weeks later in the north. Be aware that weekends can be very busy. People are off work and have time to take part in the festivities. Secure your weekend accommodation well in advance. 

We are invited to Sakura parties most years but rarely make the trip from Australia. One year was an exception. We saw an amazingly low air fare on the internet and grabbed it before it could vanish. We arrived on April 6 and got in two parties during the next two weeks. One was near Mount Fuji and the other about 100 kilometres up the coast from Tokyo. The second party was abandoned due to snow and we retreated indoors.